Microfluidic device for primary tumor spheroid isolation

Jiaojiao Zhou, Jimmy Su, Xiaotong Fu, Lei Zheng, Zhizhong Yin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background: Traditional two-dimensional (2-D) monolayer cell culture is vastly different from in vivo physiological conditions, which can lead to inaccurate or insufficient data in areas where response and efficacy within humans are being investigated, such as drug discovery, pathology studies, etc. Misleading results arise from two main disadvantages of monolayer cell culture. First, after several passages, cell lines lose many features from their original in vivo state. Second, the morphology of cells cultured in a monolayer is much different from the cell morphology in three-dimensional (3-D) in vivo conditions, thus resulting in altered cellular function. Three-dimensional multi-cellular spheroids, on the other hand, are a better representation of in vivo physiological conditions while still retaining many of the in vitro cell culture advantages. Primary spheroids freshly isolated from tissue samples are especially ideal for cell-based assays by avoiding the two problems of 2-D monolayer cell culture. Methods: In this paper, we report a microfluidic device for primary tumor spheroid isolation. Pancreatic tumor samples from mice were used in the experiments. Results: We successfully isolated primary tumor spheroids from the pancreatic tumor samples and were able to maintain the spheroids in culture for up to two weeks. Conclusions: This novel microfluidic device may promote and advance the isolation of primary tumor spheroids for future drug testing and interrogation of tumor characteristics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number22
JournalExperimental Hematology and Oncology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 7 2017


  • Cancer
  • Cell Culture
  • Microfluidics
  • Organoid
  • Primary Cell
  • Spheroid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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